The following post is written by guest blogger Celia Alicata, Director of Marketing & Communications for Classroom, Inc. FableVision Studios worked with Classroom, Inc. to develop the award-winning After the Storm and Community in Crisis. The interactive learning games promote middle-school-level reading and writing through real-world workplace simulations. Aligned to Common Core State Standards, the games encourage leadership skills and are used in classrooms with an interactive online portion and offline project-based materials. Celia recounts the following story of sharing the games with some middle schoolers in Alabama and New York.

Picture this: it’s a record-breaking 100+ degree-day in a small suburb outside of Birmingham, Alabama. We’ve just arrived to film Ms. Mahan’s summer learning class using Classroom, Inc.’s Community in Crisis—the organization’s latest learning game that puts students in the role of executive director of a community service center. We’re so thrilled to talk to real students who are diving in to their role as boss, but the heat has us running nearly on empty.  

Our first stars arrive timidly at the door of the classroom shoot—lights, cameras, and boom mics greet the children before we are able to. As the interviews kick off, it’s quite evident that the heat is no match for the energy and the powerful conversations being prompted by the real-world scenarios in the game. The young learners quickly forget the cameras are rolling, and tell stories about how the games help them see a world beyond their own:

“We’ve been learning to express ourselves differently to the world, and to really look at stuff in a new way,” explained Brillith, a soft-spoken, thoughtful 7th grader.   

Ms. Carr’s class of leaders from Thurgood Marshall Academy for Learning and Social Change in Harlem, New York shared similar revelations as they made the connection between literacy and leadership. 

“The game is going to help me do my career because reading helps you throughout your whole life,” reflected Adriana, 8th grade.

“There’s great responsibility in life. And after I was done playing [After the Storm] I saw what I have to be ready for,” said Axel, an animated 8th grader who plans to be a magician when he grows up.

The games ignite a sense of self and aspiration in these young students—from Birmingham, to New York, and to Los Angeles—and that’s what sticks with us. Listening to the voices of the educators and students whom we partner with is how we learn. It’s how we grow. And most of all, it’s how we ensure we’re developing literacy and leadership skills for children across the country. Keep watching for more #InYourWords videos.

Celia Alicata, Director of Marketing & Communications, Classroom, Inc.
Celia Alicata leads the marketing and communications efforts to share Classroom, Inc.’s stories of impact; reach thought leaders, bloggers, and journalists; and build awareness about the organization’s learning games. She brings a decade of experience in strategic communications and marketing, community engagement, and education policy and advocacy for issues impacting our most under-served communities.

Most recently, Celia was director of grassroots and regional marketing at Teach For America where she managed outreach for 13 TFA regions. Prior to that, she managed programs at Change the Equation, a STEM advocacy organization, and federal policy at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. In addition to her nonprofit experience, Celia spent time at Collaborative Communications Group, a consulting firm for education organizations. She holds an M.Ed. from the University of Virginia and a B.A. in Communications, Law, Economics, and Government from American University in Washington, DC.